Album Review — Jackson Browne: Solo Acoustic Vol. 2

By  Lee Zimmerman

“I can sing you a really tender song filled with depression, or a song laced with hope,” Jackson Browne offers the audience early on. Inevitably however, the choices are somewhat moot. That’s Browne’s forte — mingling sadness and remorse with desire and optimism, and blurring the lines in between.

It’s especially evident in this follow-up to 2005’s Solo Acoustic Vol. 1, as bare-bone settings accentuate the intimacy and vulnerability in Browne’s emotive readings. The set may lean toward later, less familiar material, but the impassioned performances give credence to both his sterling melodies and poetic prose.

Songs such as “I Never Stop,” “The Night Inside Me,” “Something Fine” and “Alive In The World” find Browne probing ever deeper into those vivid textures and riveting refrains, redefining each song with renewed urgency and intent. And while the marginally upbeat “Somebody’s Baby” and “Redneck Friend” add pop appeal, they can’t defuse the articulate expression that binds the set as a whole.

Few artists can wring as much emotion from such stripped-down circumstance, but Browne shows how just a guitar, piano, heartfelt vocals and a personal connection can tame the most boisterous crowd.

“My truly cheerful material… there’s not that much of it,” Browne allows later on. Here, it hardly seems to matter.

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